Functional Genomics of Woody Perennial Flowering

  • Carlson, John Edward (CoPI)
  • Brunner, Amy (CoPI)
  • Page, Grier (CoPI)
  • Yuceer, Mehmet (CoPI)
  • Luthe, Dawn S. (PI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


The induction, initiation and completion of flower formation are critical events in the angiosperm life cycle. Without flowering there would be no seed formation for the propagation of subsequent generations. In food plants, timely and adequate seed yields are essential for human and animal nutrition. The process of flowering, which is so vital to humankind, has been extensively studied in herbaceous annual plants that germinate, grow, flower, produce seed and die within one year. Many of the genes that regulate the flowering process have been identified and studied in the small annual plant, Arabidopsis, which serves as a model for crops. However, little is known about the mechanisms regulating flowering in woody perennial plants such as trees. This project will study the flowering process in trees in the genus Populus, which contains cottonwoods, aspens and poplars. Unlike annual plants, trees undergo cycles of vegetative and floral growth each year that are affected by dramatic seasonal changes in temperature and light. The goals is to discover the important differences and similarities among the factors that regulate flowering in annual and perennial plants. A research project has been developed to determine if the molecular basis of floral bud induction/initiation in response to environmental and physiological factors differs between Arabidopsis and Populus. Project activities will include physiological and genetic manipulations of plants, evolutionary comparisons of gene sequences and examination of the expression patterns to accomplish these objectives. Populus has become the experimental model for tree research because the entire genome has been sequenced and the plant can be genetically transformed. Populus species are economically and ecologically important and the outcomes of this project will have many practical applications. These include manipulation of seed/fruit production, acceleration of breeding programs, increased production of woody biomass, and biological confinement of transgenes, among others. Outreach components of the project range from biotechnology workshops for teachers to recruitment of high school and college minority students for individual research projects in participating laboratories. Project outcomes will be available through the Populus Floral Genome Web Site (accessible through and the Populus Genome Portal (

Effective start/end date9/1/058/31/09


  • National Science Foundation: $1,826,534.00
  • National Science Foundation: $1,826,534.00


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